It is time to leave…

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28 April 2007

It is time to leave…

We saved the tractor but it was a close call. The idea was to evacuate the surroundings of runway n°2 that was collapsing everywhere. Gamet, duly dressed with a survival suit in case anything should go wrong got down to work but the 3, 5 ton machine got the better of the ice pieces’ instability. In a minute, the essential tractor that is used to make the runways, tipped over and fell. As if set on springs, Gamet jumped on the ice… The machine did not plunge, only its back dipped in water. Warned by radio, Guillaume, the new mechanic pulled out a tackle from the depths of the engine room and trekked with the device covering the 1000 meters that separated him from the runway. Stuck in one meter of ice, this super hoist that can tow up to 6 tons, pulled our tractor slowly out of the water. With its familiar chouk chouk (so much energy is necessary to start the engine that it runs permanently), the tractor went to Tara where it will now remain on the deck.

In the same manner, the camp is closing down little by little. It is time to leave… without a runway to land the DC3. We have to operate shuttles with the Twin Otter. The small bi-motor has just landed near us. It does not have sufficient autonomy to take us directly to Svalbard or Greenland. An intermediate airport is thought up to be established on pack ice to land the DC3 that will then bring back the scientists and members of Tara who do not remain on board. The Twin Otter operates the shuttles between Tara and this intermediate airport. One of the places possible to establish this runway is where the air-dropping of the B13 weather buoy by Michaël Offermann took place a few days ago. A superb immaculate ice sheet of 1 kilometre has been spotted. B13 was located at 89°30’ when it was air-dropped. Considering the drift, we have a slim chance of finding ourselves in the North Pole to wait for the DC3. 
The Tara-Longyearbyen flight with a connection at the Pole should not depart before 00:00 hour.